WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has a passed a bill that would bar gag clauses that prevent pharmacists from telling consumers how to save money by paying out of pocket for medicine rather than going through insurance.

The Senate earlier this month passed a bill outlawing such gag clauses for Medicare D, with this latest bill extending the ban to all insurance policies. Monday's vote was 98-2, with both Ohio senators supporting it. Both the Medicare Part D bill and the Monday bill barring gag clauses from all insurance policies were cosponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

A 2018 study by the University of Southern California found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy 23 percent of the time.

An eight-month investigation by the Columbus Dispatch earlier this year found that pharmacy benefit managers — middlemen in the Medicaid supply chain between drug manufacturers and customers — are charging Ohioans three to six times the normal rate for drugs, costing taxpayers between $150 million and $186 million more than they need to spend on drugs.